Date of Award


Document Type



College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program


Degree Name

Master of Science

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Meir Barak

Committee Member

Dr. Victoria Frost

Committee Member

Dr. Matt Stern


Bone, Biomechanics, Bacteria, Infection, Osteomyelitis


Osteomyelitis, a term for bone infection, is a common cause of hospitalization in the United States. Infection leading to osteomyelitis is almost always a product of bacterial origin. Although polymicrobial presence is seen at infection sites of osteomyelitis, Staphylococcus aureus is most commonly isolated and found to be the cause of more than 95% of bone infection in adults. This organism is a common commensal of humans that is carried by an estimated 60% of the US population. S. aureus is transferred by infected asymptomatic individuals, and its ability to proliferate under a variety of environmental conditions contributes to the organism’s role as a pathogen in hosts with compromised immunity. This study examines the effect that infection of Staphylococcus aureus has on cortical bone stiffness. The data collected may be relevant information for bone-graft banks storing donor tissues. A preliminary experiment showed the ability of S. aureus to infect cortical bone by traveling through its porous structure. Frozen, cortical bone samples were thawed, sterilized with alcohol, inoculated with nutrient broth containing S. aureus and then disinfected with chlorhexidine gluconate. Stiffness measurements of each sample were recorded before and after bacterial contamination to allow each sample to serve as its own control. One cube out of every testing batch was not inoculated in bacteria to serve as a control. The results demonstrate that S. aureus infection of bone does not significantly decrease bone stiffness in the axial orientation (p>0.05). In the transverse orientation a significant decrease was observed in the experimental group (p